Articles | Volume 14, issue 3
08 Mar 2010
 | 08 Mar 2010

Towards understanding hydroclimatic change in Victoria, Australia – preliminary insights into the "Big Dry"

A. S. Kiem and D. C. Verdon-Kidd

Abstract. Since the mid-1990s the majority of Victoria, Australia, has experienced severe drought conditions (i.e. the "Big Dry") characterized by streamflow that is the lowest in approximately 80 years of record. While decreases in annual and seasonal rainfall totals have also been observed, this alone does not seem to explain the observed reduction in flow. In this study, we investigate the large-scale climate drivers for Victoria and demonstrate how these modulate the regional scale synoptic patterns, which in turn alter the way seasonal rainfall totals are compiled and the amount of runoff per unit rainfall that is produced. The hydrological implications are significant and illustrate the need for robust hydrological modelling, that takes into account insights into physical mechanisms that drive regional hydroclimatology, in order to properly understand and quantify the impacts of climate change (natural and/or anthropogenic) on water resources.